Whooping Cranes in Texas: a Journey South - Texas Parks & Wildlife [Official]


Uploaded by TexasParksWildlife on 27.12.2011

Transcript:
(birds calling)
(music)
>> WHEN IT'S FIRST LIGHT,
THAT'S THE BEST TIME TO BE HERE.
BECAUSE THEY'RE UP
AND THEY'RE MOVING.
AND ESPECIALLY IF IT'S COLD,
THEY'RE MOVING.
AND YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT
YOU'RE GOING TO SEE WHEN YOU
GO AROUND A CURVE.
YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT'S GOING
TO BE ON THE OTHER SIDE.
THAT KIND OF ADDS TO
THE MYSTIQUE OF THE WHOLE THING.
IT'S A GREAT PLACE TO BE.
(music)
>> FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS,
THE WETLANDS AND MARSHES
ALONG THE TEXAS GULF COAST
HAVE PROVIDED A RICH HABITAT
FOR MANY SPECIES OF PLANTS
AND ANIMALS.
BUT THESE HABITATS BEGAN TO
DISAPPEAR IN THE EARLY 1900S.
(movie projector humming)
>> IN THE 1930S,
AMERICA WAS GOING THROUGH A
DROUGHT AND WATERFOWL
POPULATIONS WERE IN TROUBLE
ALL AROUND THE COUNTRY.
AND SO, IN 1937,
FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT SIGNED AN
EXECUTIVE ORDER WHICH
ESTABLISHED THE REFUGE
AND SET IT ASIDE FOR WATERFOWL
AND MIGRATORY BIRD MANAGEMENT.
>> THE ARANSAS NATIONAL
WILDLIFE REFUGE IS SURROUNDED
BY BAY WATERS,
ITS' MARSHES A HOME TO A
VARIETY OF PLANTS AND ANIMALS,
FROM WATERFOWL
TO THE AMERICAN ALLIGATOR.
MOVING INLAND,
DENSE THICKETS PROVIDE SHELTER
FOR WHITETAIL DEER, JAVELINA,
COYOTES, AND RACCOONS.
ALTHOUGH THE REFUGE IS
SET ASIDE FOR WILDLIFE,
VISITORS HAVE A PLACE HERE,
TOO.
>> WE HAVE SEEN MORE DUCKS THAN
I HAVE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE.
>> AND MORE GEESE.
>> THE WILDLIFE INTERPRETIVE
CENTER HOUSES AN EXHIBIT
THAT FEATURES THE SPECIES
AND HABITATS OF THE REGION.
>> JUST A LITTLE TO THE LEFT
AND OVER NEAR THE OTHER SHORE,
YOU CAN SEE JUST TWO
LITTLE SPOTS.
>> CAN YOU SEE THEM?
>> SEE THOSE TWO THINGS
THAT ARE IN THE WATER?
JUST GO TO THE RIGHT OF THAT
LITTLE SPIT OF LAND.
DO YOU SEE HIM?
>> THEY'RE PRETTY.
THIS IS A BEAUTIFUL PLACE,
ISN'T IT?
IT SURE IS.
>> WE COME DOWN EVERY YEAR.
>> ALL THE WAY FROM NEW YORK.
>> EVEN THOUGH THEY'RE SO
FAR AWAY,
IS IT STILL WORTH IT?
>> OH, YEAH. OH, YEAH.
BECAUSE THIS IS JUST LOVELY.
ARANSAS IS MARVELOUS.
THIS IS REAL NATURE.
>> OK.
THE FUNNY PART ABOUT
TRIMMING ONE OF THESE TRAILS,
WHEN YOU TURN AROUND
AND COME BACK UP THE TRAIL,
IT LOOKS WORSE THAN IT DID
WHEN YOU WENT DOWN, ALMOST!
YOU HAVE TO TRIM IT AGAIN.
THERE'S STUMPS DOWN THERE.
>> OH, HOW LONG HAVE WE
BEEN VOLUNTEERING?
>> IT HAS BEEN YEARS.
>> WE ARE PROFESSIONAL
VOLUNTEERS.
BY THAT, BY THAT,
WE DO IT ANY PLACE WE CAN,
ANY TIME SOMEBODY NEEDS OUR
SERVICES.
(music)
>> THE ARANSAS NATIONAL
WILDLIFE REFUGE IS
THE WINTER HOME TO A DIVERSE
BIRD POPULATION.
ALMOST FOUR HUNDRED SPECIES
HAVE BEEN DOCUMENTED HERE.
BUT THE MOST FAMOUS
WINTER-TIME RESIDENT
IS THE WHOOPING CRANE.
>> THIS IS THE ONLY PLACE
THAT A NATURAL WILD FLOCK
WINTERS ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD.
I MEAN, WHOOPING CRANES,
THERE ARE ONLY ABOUT 430 IN
NORTH AMERICA AND ABOUT 200
IN THIS TEXAS WINTERING FLOCK.
OF COURSE,
IT'S STILL ENDANGERED.
WE'RE STILL IN THE INITIAL
STAGES OF SAVING THE SPECIES.
WE'VE GOT A LONG WAY TO GO.
(music)
>> THIS MAJESTIC RED-HEADED
BIRD IS THE LARGEST IN
NORTH AMERICA.
STANDING FIVE FEET TALL,
ITS BLACK-TIPPED WINGS SPAN
SEVEN AND A HALF FEET
IN FLIGHT.
FROM LATE OCTOBER UNTIL
MID-APRIL,
THE WHOOPERS WINTER ALONG
35 MILES OF TEXAS COAST.
HERE THEY RELAX IN THE MARSHES,
FEEDING ON CRABS AND ACORNS,
RAISING THEIR YOUNG.
THEY ESTABLISH THEIR OWN
TERRITORY AT THE REFUGE
AND WILL RETURN TO EXACTLY
THE SAME AREA YEAR AFTER YEAR.
BUT EVEN AFTER HALF A CENTURY
OF PROTECTION,
THE WHOOPER IS STILL IN DANGER.
>> WE JUST KNOW THEY'RE
NOT SAFE.
WE'RE TRYING TO GET A SECOND
AND THEN A THIRD FLOCK
ESTABLISHED AND THEN AT THAT
POINT WE FEEL WE COULD TAKE
THE BIRD OFF THE ENDANGERED
SPECIES LIST.
AND THAT IS THE OVERALL GOAL
OF WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO DO.
>> AND OTHER DANGERS LOOM
JUST OVER THE HORIZON.
>> ONE OF THOSE MAJOR THREATS
RIGHT NOW IS THE CONTINUED
DECREASE OF FRESHWATER INFLOWS.
>> WHAT'S HAPPENING IS THIS.
MORE AND MORE WATER IS BEING
DIVERTED FROM RIVERS UPSTREAM
TO BE USED BY PEOPLE,
INDUSTRY AND AGRICULTURE.
BUT DOING THIS REDUCES
THE AMOUNT OF FRESH WATER
THAT FLOWS ALL THE WAY TO
THE GULF OF MEXICO.
THE RESULT?
ESTUARIES ARE ROBBED OF
THE NUTRIENTS THAT KEEP
MARINE ECOSYSTEMS IN BALANCE.
FOR THE WHOOPING CRANE,
THIS BREAK IN THE AQUATIC FOOD
CHAIN WOULD BE DEVASTATING.
>> AND THE TREND IS CONTINUING.
THERE'S NO MECHANISM TO LEAVE
ADEQUATE AMOUNTS OF WATER
IN THE RIVER.
AND THAT SITUATION HAS TO BE
REVERSED OR THE WHOOPING CRANE
IS GOING TO GO EXTINCT.
>> FOR THE FIRST TIME IN
THE HISTORY OF THE REFUGE,
THE WHOOPING CRANE POPULATION
WILL EXCEED 200 BIRDS.
BUT ITS FUTURE REMAINS TENUOUS
SO LONG AS THE SPECIES MUST
RELY SO HEAVILY ON
THE WINTERING GROUNDS HERE
AT ARANSAS.
(music)
>> THE REASON THAT WE NEED
ANOTHER FLOCK OF WHOOPING
CRANES IS THAT THIS FLOCK IS
SO VULNERABLE.
ALL WE NEED IS ONE HURRICANE
IN NOVEMBER THAT COULD WIPE
OUT TWO-THIRDS OF THE FLOCK.
>> THAT FACT KEEPS THE
BIOLOGISTS FOREVER ON EDGE,
KNOWING THAT A SINGLE DISASTER
COULD WIPE OUT 50 YEARS
OF HARD WORK.
>> THEY WERE ONCE ONLY 15
WHOOPING CRANES WINTERING
IN TEXAS SO THEY WERE SO RARE
AND THEY'VE MADE SUCH A COMEBACK
THAT THEY REALLY SYMBOLIZE
CONSERVATION IN NORTH AMERICA.
OF WHAT MAN CAN ACCOMPLISH
IF MAN STEPS IN AND ADEQUATELY
PROTECTS A SPECIES AND
ALLOWS IT TO MAKE A COMEBACK.